By Barry Janoff
December 12, 2016: With just about 90 days until the start of the 2017 Special Olympics World Games next March, Special Olympics Team USA has started to train in earnest, spending three days this week at Killington (Vt.) Resort.
Many members of Special Olympics USA — which is is comprised of 150 athletes, 40 coaches and approximately 20 delegation members who support team operations — will train to compete in seven sports: alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, figure skating, floor hockey, snowboarding, snowshoeing and speed skating.
The skiiers, snowboarders and snowshoers will practice at Killington Resort, speed skaters and figure skaters will train in Spartan Arena in Rutland and floor hockey members at Castleton University.
The delegation also includes Special Olympics Unified Sports teams, people with and without intellectual disabilities who compete together as teammates.
The Winter World Games are scheduled for March 14-25, 2017, with events in Graz, Ramsau and Schladming, Austria.
Bank of America is premier sponsor for the Special Olympics World Winter Games.
Sponsors also include Audi, Coca-Cola and Microsoft.
For the first time in the history of the Special Olympics World Winter Games, ESPN and ABC networks will cover events from start to finish, with features, interviews and news updates throughout the competition.
The first International Special Olympics Summer Games were held in Chicago in 1968, the first International Special Olympics Winter Games were held in February 1977 in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
This is expected to be the largest Special Olympics World Winter Games in history, with more than 2,600 Special Olympics athletes and coaches from 106 nations scheduled to compete in Austria.
The World Winter Games Opening Ceremony will air on ABC (March 18), followed by Games coverage on ABC the next day, a program each weeknight on ESPN2 from March 20-24 and a wrap up program following the Games, recapping the competitions and Closing Ceremony.
ESPN said its nightly coverage would include interviews with athletes and special guests, a daily competition showcase featuring highlights from the day’s action during SportsCenter and other ESPN programming, profiles and feature stories and on-site reporting.
In addition, a special series of original vignettes will be produced as a part of ESPN’s coverage and will begin appearing on ESPN and digital media in the buildup to the beginning of ESPN’s coverage
"The Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria are going to be a remarkable showcase of the power of sports to have a positive impact on people’s lives," Russell Wolff, evp-ESPN International, said in a statement.
"We’re extremely excited about our coverage plans and very proud to again be showcasing the Special Olympics movement across our media, bringing the amazing competition, athleticism, stories and spirit on display in Austria to millions of fans around the world," said Russell.
Under its current deal, ESPN said it would continue as an official broadcaster of the Special Olympics World Games through the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle and the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games.
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